Thursday, February 13, 2014

Photoshopping: Crossing the Path of Enough?

Image: Courtesy of Flickr.

Imagine that you are at the store, waiting in line for the cashier. You quickly take a glance at the magazine rack, and you cannot believe what you just have seen. A celebrity who you would be able to recognize in a heartbeat now seems so unfamiliar with a ridiculously thin body, an elongated neck, perfect skin, and no blemishes whatsoever! Is this real, you might ask yourself? Of course not. This is far from real. However, you leave the store feeling a little subconscious about your own appearance compared to the magazine beauty who is ideally respected among the media. Now, with that in mind, it is important to note the current uses of photoshop which are in conjunction with modern, deceiving advertisements. But as implied before, shouldn’t there be a concrete point in the media where enough is enough with all of the image editing? Because of the significant impact photoshopping may leave on insecure individuals, the government should enforce regulations throughout the digital world unless advertisers have already voluntarily limited their use of this application.

"I became immersed in this world very quickly. I gave up the agency and photography and delved into the dark world of anorexics and bulimics. I realized that only legislation can change the situation...There was no time to waste, so many girls were dieting to death” (Adi Barkman). On March 9th, 2012, the Israeli parliament passed the Photoshop Laws, which regulate both the fashion and advertising industry. These laws prohibit the use of models who are underweight as determined by the Body Mass Index, and they also regulate the usage of Photoshop in media and advertising. Adi Barkman, a photographer and fashion model agent, aided many anorexics and bulimics to help overcome their insecurities, and he grasped that there must be an immediate change regarding the way in which image editing has been used. It shouldn’t be surprising to hear that there is a direct correlation between the impact of photoshopping and eating disorders. Actually, "of American, elementary school girls who read magazines, 69% say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape. 47% say the pictures make them want to lose weight" (Martin, 2010). Doesn’t that sound crazy, especially given the fact that they are elementary school girls? But I’m afraid it is the truth; I know that I have multiple times doubted my appearance compared to these ‘perfect’ (but PHOTOSHOPPED) models. Furthermore, even the adults agree with me: out of a surveyed 1,000 adults, 70% believed that if ads used more realistic sized models, we, as the digital world, could potentially prevent harmful eating disorders (Martin, 2010). All in all, it is important to recognize how the use of photoshop has been consistently exerted into the daily lives of individuals, and it has gotten to an extent where it has become too extreme by becoming a main contributor to very damaging eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia.
Image: Courtesy of Flickr

In addition to engendering eating disorders, the use of photoshopping in advertisements can lead to the unrealistic expectations consumers may have about the product being advertised. The National Advertising Division (NAD) director, Andrea Levine, voices that "you can’t use a photograph to demonstrate how a cosmetic will look after it is applied to a woman’s face and then – in the mice type – have a disclosure that says ‘okay, not really.’” Recently, it was announced that Proctor & Gamble will never again sponsor an ad for their CoverGirl Mascara since the amount of enhancement and photoshopping used to make the eyelashes look longer and thicker was astounding and quite unrealistic in their previous ad. These types of ads can be quite deceiving to customers, since in reality they germinate results far from what is portrayed in the advertisement. Therefore, the NAD prescribes self-regulation among the advertising business, which luckily has been accepted by most companies since the NAD is partners with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), who has the power to fine, sue, or bring embargoes against rogue companies. As a young female, I have to agree and say that it can be quite intimidating when you see an ad that is beyond achievable. It creates this type of unrealistic expectation of the ‘right’ body image from society, and I can relate to the amount of pressure this might cause for teenagers and young women. I’m sure you can relate to a similar experience, am I right? Just think about it.

However, there is another side to this story. The Associate Creative Director at Bensimon Byrne, Dan Strasser, points out that “it’s just expected. Everything gets retouched … even if you’re just taking a photo of a natural setting. You’re going to tweak the colour balance.” It has been recognized how retouching affects all types of advertising and marketing in positive ways. I mean, come on, how many times have you seen the McDonalds commercial and right in front of your face is the definition of burger beauty? I’m sure that has probably happened to most of you, and later on, when you decide to go there and buy that burger, not only do you receive a smaller and less appetizing one, but you actually increase the profit of the company and their advertisement. In addition, there have been claims made by Sasha Grujicic that “you cannot court consumers without creating some gap of where you are and where you want to be. Advertising is precisely aimed at that gap.” By increasing consumer attention and advertising dollars, photoshopping is an entire culture; an entire industry significant to various companies.

To conclude, I believe that the excessive use of photoshopping has crossed its limits, and it serves to function as both an important yet deceiving application in the advertising business. However, as discussed above, there should be government regulations on photoshopping, like in Israel, and advertisers should limit its use in their campaigns to help eliminate the insecurity it may spawn among young women.


Conclusion--
Updated 3/5/14

Overall, I really enjoyed doing this project, and it exposed me to prevalent issues that deserve to be recognized and debated upon today. Photoshopping has always been a topic of interest to me; however, I never really looked at it as an application which should be monitored legally. This project enabled me to successfully do that, and I have gotten so much out of it. I believe that photoshopping or any type of image editing should be regulated by the government in order to prevent any insecurities or "ideal" expectations which might rise from it. This topic closely ties in to what we have explored this year in my Digital Citizenship class: Should there be limits on an application like Photoshop when used to manipulate images? What are its effects on both women and men? Are they positive or negative? I found myself asking those questions in my head when we covered the Digital Rights and Responsibilities unit, specifically editing and ethics. That is when I got the idea to write my blog about the uses of Photoshop (specifically in magazine and modern advertisements) and whether or not they should be regulated. When I began researching, I was fascinated by the information that I had collected- there were so many shocking statistics, specifically how magazines/ads influence elementary school girls to achieve the "ideal body image." It was so crazy to know that girls (at the ages between 8-11) have already been exposed and influenced by the media on how they "should" look. I was also startled when I read statistics that revealed a direct correlation between the impact of image editing and eating disorders. These facts made me become much more passionate toward arguing my topic as strongly as it could be. I really appreciated all of the comments that I received! None of them made me change my mind about my topic since all of them helped support my main ideas I delivered throughout my blog. By doing some more research after receiving these comments, I further clarified for myself how photoshopping ads can positively affect the company's sales, like a comment pointed out; now I can fully understand the flip-side of my topic after a few weeks of publishing my original post. As mentioned before, I did have to do further research in order to reply persuasively and effectively to all of the comments. I really enjoyed doing that so I could continue to engage the reader in a conversation, and by further research, I learned more about this topic through many fascinating blogs, websites, and statistics! To conclude, I definitely got so much out of this project and the process of blogging in general; I am very intrigued by these controversial topics, and I hope to continue to research and learn about them outside of class. This project opened up my eyes to many issues in which some individuals, including myself, were not aware of before, and I think that creating a blog to spread that awareness was a very memorable and unforgettable experience.

24 comments:

  1. I strongly agree with the points made in this article. We are starting to go a little far with the photo shopping of models on magazine covers. I don't really read magazines on a regular basis but sometimes I will still see them and wonder why she looks so much better than I do. I think we should take note of Israel's way of solving this problem and implement this in our own country.

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    1. Hi Sophia!
      Thank you so much for your contribution; I really appreciate it. I definitely agree with you that we are pushing the limit of extreme photoshopping of models on magazine covers, and it is astonishing to see the before-after pictures. To look deeper into this topic and to view the before to after image edits, I would encourage you to check out this article (http://www.beautyredefined.net/photoshop-phoniness-hall-of-shame/). Thank you again for your comment! --VolleyDolly7

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  2. I agree, the amount of photoshop used in advertisements is ridiculous. Putting government regulations on photoshopping would help teenage girls feel better about themselves and wouldn't make them have unrealistic expectations about how they should look.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,
      Thank you for your comment! I could not agree more-- the excessive amount of photoshopping implemented in today's societies truly exerts a large amount of pressure into the daily teenager life. Teenagers, especially young women, begin to feel insecure about their body image compared to the 'perfect magazine woman,' and they may not understand it is edited to a far extent, then feeling guilty about themselves. To look further into this topic, I would encourage you to read this article and look at its commentary (since it asked students to reply if photoshopping affected them in any way): http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/30/do-photoshopped-images-make-you-feel-bad-about-your-own-looks/. Once again, thank you for your contribution! --VolleyDolly7

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  3. I strongly agree with everything written here. The use of photoshop in our culture is unreal, and we need to control it. Too many girls and even guys are being hurt because of what they see. It's destroying and reshaping what they think is an ideal person, and instead of being healthy and happy they make themselves the complete opposite.

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    1. Hello Anonymous!
      Thank you for your contribution; I really appreciate it. I firmly agree with you as well, and I think that labeling if the image or ad has been altered would benefit young women and help reduce any insecurities they may have about the 'right' body image. We (as young females) are growing up in a world today where retouching is quite common and too extreme, creating unrealistic body expectations. Thanks again for your comment! --VolleyDolly7

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  4. I firmly agree, it's absolutely insane how much photoshop is used on pictures. Nobody is perfect, so why make it seem like they are? Photoahop worsens a persons self esteem because they feel that that person actually appears like the picture. They hate themselves because they can never reach that potential. It's completely sickening that this is going on in our world today.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,
      Thank you for your comment! I strongly agree with you, and I think it is important for young men and women to realize that what you see is not always what is true. Behind all the image editing and retouching, there is a human who has his/her flaws, and I think that every individual deserves to know that whether through the use of indicating that the image has been photoshopped or banning the application for good. I appreciate your contribution! --VolleyDolly7

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  5. I think that pictures can be enhanced and edited as much as the artist/photographer want; however, I think that the magazine or ad should include a note saying what was done to the picture. Photographers have the right change a picture as they see fitting, but we should know what they did.

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    1. Hello Anonymous!
      Thank you for your contribution! You have a very good point, and as mentioned above in the article, "everything gets retouched" and photographers have the right to change an image as they see fit; however, I agree with you that they should indicate that to their consumers to help prevent any insecurity which may spawn from it if not mentioned. Thanks again for your comment, and I really like how we are starting to spread awareness about this solution-seeking issue! --VolleyDolly7

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  6. Hey VolleyDolly7, great writing, this article was very informative and confirmatory for my beliefs. I also have seen magazines where models are digitally beautified to perfection. It does affect me, in ways which I don't feel as self confident and feel like I need to lose weight or gain muscle. I believe that this unreal and unreachable ideal body does affect people, and the government should have some limits or ban the idea ought right. Also, I never have thought that the Photoshopping of the models in the commercial could affect the consumers reviews and hopes for the goods. But doesn't this have a flip-side, and increase the sales and demand for the products? Do you think that this has a major affect on sales? Thanks for writing this article.

    -NDS

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    2. Hi NDS!
      Thank you for your contribution; I really appreciate it! You're absolutely correct-- photoshopping of the models in a commercial can increase the sales and demand for the products, since it creates a desired look for the customer and encourages him/her to achieve that by buying the product. Although, it is important to note that the product portrayed in a photoshopped ad does not always mean that a customer will get the same results. Photoshopping is pure image altering, which does grab consumer attention and positively affects sales of the product; however, it is not always a reality. To look deeper into this topic, I would encourage you to read this article (http://www.pointparkglobe.com/web-extras/photo-editing-v-deceptive-advertising-1.1779912#.UxACfzk1ZFI) which talks about the correlation yet differences of photo editing and deceptive advertisings, and how it affects consumers of the product. I would also take a look at this article (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/9345821/How-McDonalds-uses-Photoshop-to-touch-up-their-menu-burgers.html) which discuses how McDonalds uses Photoshop to make their burgers appear big and tasty, which can increase their sales for that product. Once again, thank you for commenting! --VolleyDolly7

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  7. Hi VolleyDolly7~
    this really opened my eyes about the truth of photoshopping.. I'm equally astonished and horrified that 69% of elementary school girls who read magazines, say that the pictures influence their concept of the ideal body shape. (That's awful!!) You have a great thesis, concluded very well. Great writing! My question is: What do you think we should do about photoshopping? is there an alternative to it?
    Thanks,
    Duncan09

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    1. Hello Duncan09!
      Thank you for your comment; I really appreciate it! I could not agree with you more-- these statistics are astonishing and truly alert us about the real truth of photoshopping. I think photographers have the right to edit an image as they see fit, however; if they are going to use that image in the public, I would urge them to indicate that the image has been altered, and I would encourage the government to regulate this. The only alternative to image editing (Photoshopping) is the real beauty found in every individual. I encourage magazines to ban their use of photoshop on their models, and instead, put more emphasis on their natural, true beauty. If you would like to dive deeper into this topic, I would check out this article (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/10/verily-magazine-no-photoshop_n_4079217.html) about a magazine who continues to enforce their No-Photoshop Policy and never alters the body or face structure of their models. It is motivating to see how some companies are realizing the negative impact image editing may spawn among young individuals. Thanks again for your contribution! --VolleyDolly7

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  8. Hi VolleyDolly7! You have presented a strong case for regulation of photo-shopping to protect girls and women from psychological and physical risks as they try to achieve "ideals." Do you know of any other country that has followed Israel's lead in legislating the advertising industry? Thank you for continuing to publicize the problems with photoshopping. --Ms. Riches

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    1. Hi Ms. Riches,
      Thank you for your comment; I really appreciate it! That is a great point-- I actually know that the UK and France proposed 'Photoshop fakery laws' a few years ago, and they realized how beneficial it would be if there were laws regulating the amount of image editing permitted. Jo Swinson, British Liberal Democratic MP, "convinced her party to adopt her proposal to institute a labeling system for digitally altered ads and to ban them altogether in ads targeted toward children under 16." French parliamentarian, Valérie Boyer, proposed that "retouched photos for 'editorial purposes' would be required to include warning labels, and scofflaws could be fined $55,000." To look deeper into this topic and to further understand Swinson and Boyer's proposals, I would encourage you to look at this article: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/29/photoshop_laws/. It is very fascinating to see how some other countries are finally taking a stand and are truly understanding the negative impacts image editing may leave on insecure individuals. Thank you again for your comment! --VolleyDolly7

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  9. Hi VolleyDolly7~
    You really support your thesis and make a really strong argument. I like how you put what someone who used to do photoshopping thought about it. Do you think that a little photoshopping is okay and even might improve how a person feels about themselves?
    ~Himitsu

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    1. Hi Himitsu!
      Thank you for commenting; I appreciate it! Personally, I think everything in moderation is okay; I think that if a model felt more comfortable with receiving a few retouches on her skin, for instance, that would be fine. However, if it got out of hand, and instead, her whole face and body figure was altered, then I would think that the photographer should indicate that the image had been edited. You brought up a very good point-- thank you! --VolleyDolly7

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  10. Hi VollyDolly7,
    You did a great job on makings your major points stand out. I agree with your main ideas about Photoshop creating a false image of what is being portrayed and this can lead to harm and how Photoshop has now crossed its limits. We are starting to go too far into this world of "Photoshop". However, do you think that there are any ways that Photoshop has created a positive impact?
    -Soccer9

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    2. Hello Soccer9!
      Thank you for your comment; I really appreciate it! I firmly agree with you that photoshopping has now crossed its limits and is a contributor to unrealistic body expectations from society. You actually bring up a very good point-- Photoshop has indeed created a positive impact on photographers. Looking at it through an artistic lens, Photoshop has made photos more visually interesting and can increase the quality of the images. With the use of Photoshop, images can be altered, cool and interesting effects can be added, and the photo can be given a dimension it didn’t originally have pre-Photoshop. It is an enchanting type of art, and when it is used properly, it can create magnificent portraits and masterpieces that are just remarkable. Thank you for bringing up this perspective on the use of Photoshop! --VolleyDolly7

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  11. VollyDolly7, there's more good news on this front! I just read this article this morning announcing an upcoming congressional briefing (in OUR Congress) on photoshopped ads as "false advertising." It's a very exciting development and I would urge you to lend your voice to the cause, as you have here! More information about it is available at the Brave Girls Alliance. You have written such a brilliant piece here, and your passion and conviction clearly come through. I especially appreciated reading your final reflection, and I can tell that this is not a topic that will just fall off your radar now that class is over. Really well done! The world needs more people like you, with an eye for truth, and a conviction in your beliefs. When we really "see" what's going on in media advertising, we become empowered to change the cultural influence it can have.

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    1. Hi, Ms. Gerla!
      Wow, thank you for sharing this article with me and for your comment! That is so awesome/relieving to hear that our congress is beginning to realize how photoshopped ads are "false advertising." I really like how more organizations are starting to raise awareness about this crucial issue, such as the Brave Girls Alliance, and strong individuals like Seth Matlins (who actually wrote an article which I read and used in this blog!) I will definitely lend my voice to this cause and will keep you updated. Thank you for showing this article to me; I am excited to see where this issue will stand in just a couple of months! --VolleyDolly7

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